Opening this weekend and perfect for children ages 4 – 10, Pollyanna Theatre Company presents THE RAGBAG SHOES, a new play from Pollyanna’s own friend and supporter, Katherine Gee Perrone. We caught up with Judy Matetzschk-Campbell, Producing Artistic Director of Pollyanna, to learn about Perrone’s history with the theatre company as well as the magic we can expect from THE RAGBAG SHOES.
Like many people my age, I have vivid memories of watching the prime-time television special of CINDERELLA in the mid-1960s. Each year when it was announced, I could not wait for the night when it would be shown. I was fascinated by the music and dancing but most of all by the SHOES. Perhaps that was the beginning of my life-long love of shoes. To this day, my husband can confirm, when we travel, it is hard for me to walk by a shop window full of shoes or handbags without stopping.
Television’s CINDERELLA may have started it, but as I got old enough to read stories for myself, I started to realize how many fairytales feature magic shoes. But like the shoes in Cinderella, it wasn’t the shoes themselves that were magical. It was the inner strength and courage of the young women in the stories who were facing adversity and stepping forward in spite of those challenges that impressed me. That bravery and determination was truly magical. Vivid discoveries like this one from my childhood always inform my choices as theatre maker for young audiences. I trust that if it moved me as a child, if it inspired me or made me think deeply, it will move others as well.
Katherine Gee Perrone first came to our company as a young playwright and an intern many seasons ago. She worked tirelessly to help me sell our mainstage productions to school groups and assisted me in many different ways. She had already established herself a s a very strong playwright and was tying to determine her next steps in the theatre field. Pollyanna Theatre is so blessed that Katherine came our way. Over the intervening seasons she has served as Teaching Artist for our company as well as provided scripts for our mainstage production season. All of this while starting her family and completing her MFA in writing for the stage and screen! It is always exciting to sit down across the table from Katherine and ask her, “So what would you like to work on next?” The play that we are about to open, THE RAGBAG SHOES is the result of one such conversation.
In Katherine’s newest play for Pollyanna, the young female protagonist, Iyana, is turning ten years old, and she can’t wait to see what kind of magic shoes her father, the shoemaker, has made for her. He makes special magic shoes for every ten-year-old boy and girl in the kingdom, and Iyana knows that hers will be the best of all. But Iyana’s father has fallen on hard times and is too poor to buy new material, so he cobbles together a pair of shoes with the carefully selected scraps found in his ragbag. Iyana absolutely hates them. But to Iyana’s surprise, the shoes come alive and taker on a fantastic adventure through their patchwork past. Every scrap in her shoes has come from a fairy tale: the sole is made from the iron shoes that saved the Sleeping Prince; and the satin top was plucked from the slippers of the Twelve Dancing Princesses! As Iyana’s shoes dance her from tale to tale, Iyana learns to appreciate the gift her father gave her, to both respect the history of her ragbag shoes, and feel empowered to dance the shoes into a story of her own. That what we’ve been given makes us who we are, but it does not determine what we become. THE RAGBAG SHOES is an unforgettable play that will have you tapping your feet as you travel through the familiar and forgotten tales of fairytale footwear. This play is intended for children ages 4 – 10.
I cannot wait to share this new play with the child that lives inside of me, and inside you, too. I trust that like Katherine’s previous plays, THE RAGBAG SHOES will inspire us to be the best versions of ourselves we can be, and walk our unique path with bravery and confidence. While our shoes might not be magical, our imaginations certainly are!
THE RAGBAG SHOES is presented by Pollyanna Theatre Company in the Rollins Studio Theatre at the Long Center. Weekday performances are at 11:30am on Friday, July 8, and 9:30 and 11:30am on Monday/Wednesday, Thursday July 14 and Friday July 15. Weekend Performances are at 2pm on Saturday, July 9, Sunday, July 10 and Saturday, July 16.